Rave : 2010 : Rehash x 2 - Clone Saga & Secret Wars

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Two classic Spider-Man tales have been Reworked and/or Re-Told in the first few months of 2010, with radically differing degrees of success.

Spider-Man Clone Saga #1
Nov 2009 : NM ($4.00) : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man appears
Editor:  Michael Horwitz
Writer:  Tom DeFalco, Howard Mackie
Pencils:  Todd Nauck
Inker:  Victor Olazaba
Cover Art:  Pasqual Ferry
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The first is "Spider-Man Clone Saga", a six-part Limited Series scripted by Tom DeFalco and Howard Mackie, both of whom were significantly responsible for the original meandering mess of retcons and contradictions which formed the Clone Saga as it smeared its way through two years from late 1994 through to the end of 1996.

This retelling is the opportunity to tell "the story the way it should have been told". To which I would add three comments:

Firstly, you had yourself and a team of who knows how many editors, assistant-editors, editors in chief, writers, and artists working for two years on this storyline. You had countless opportunities to bring this story to a suitable conclusion. By your own admission above, you failed repeatedly. What makes you think you can get it right this time?

Secondly, the original story was an overblown mess which lasted way too long. The story expanded (not to its credit) to fill the space available. This retelling is an overblown mess which fortunately was more limited in printing space, but also managed to overflow its boundaries - there's just too many confused ideas crammed in side by side in this limited series. The result is a dog's breakfast of scenes which bring no more real clarity or satisfaction than the original did.

Thirdly, the retelling is so unsatisfying that I really can't imagine what inspired these two guys to make the decision to go pick at the never-healing scab which is the Clone Saga. Marvel spent ten years trying to get us to forget about that story. This series is a sober reminder of why that was probably the best approach to take.

Spider-Man Secret Wars #1
Feb 2010 : NM ($3.00) : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man appears
Editor:  Nathan Cosby
Writer:  Paul Tobin
Pencils:  Patrick Scherberger
Inker:  Terry Pallot
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The other is the four-part revisiting of the Secret Wars saga which was one of Marvel's very earliest multi-part Marvel Universe crossovers (the first is generally accepted to be Contest Of Champions). Secret Wars was hugely popular with fans, and the events of that 12-part series have resonated down through the following decades.

Now writer Paul Tobin offers this four-part limited series which specifically expands on Spider-Man's role in the series and fills in the many gaps in that role which are necessarily present in such a huge tale with so many characters.

Of course, Tobin's name doesn't fill me with confidence. I credit him with most of the responsibility of turning Marvel Adventures Spider-Man from an interesting standalone title into a self-indulgent disaster which fully deserved its prompt cancellation. But I can find little fault with what he has done with Spider-Man Secret Wars.

I believe it suffices simply to compare the two limited series. The Clone Saga was a still-fresh fiasco best left buried. By contrast, Secret Wars is a classic tale which was popular in its time, but that time was long enough back that a respectful rediscovery is quite appropriate.

DeFalco and Mackie took their own confused story, then threw it away and rewrote it in a way that added nothing. Tobin by contrast has carefully taken the cosmic-scale saga of Secret Wars and respectfully inserted into its empty spaces the smaller, more human stories describing our favorite web-headed hero's role as it interweaves with the major events.

Bottom line - Tobin has produced four interesting stories to enrich a popular saga. DeFalco and Mackie have simply piled one stinking mess on top of another.